As a hiring manager, I always checked an applicant’s résumé for familiar company names. My bias is “the bigger, the better.” Recognizable company names add credibility to a candidate’s application, plus an ability to navigate complex organizations and politics.

Next, I look at the applicant’s past job titles to get a sense of whether or not they progressed through a function or industry. Often titles are misleading, so I look at the quantitative indicators of scope: Did the candidate progress in his or her career by managing more people, more revenue, or a bigger territory? That’s why data is so important on a résumé.

Last, I look at tenure with the listed companies. Although more people have shorter stints at companies due to economic downsizing, it is still important for a résumé to reflect commitment.

Once you have those details in order, polish your résumé with these simple upgrades:

  • Use bullet points so that your achievements are easy to navigate.
  • Most résumés focus too much on the target company and not enough on the candidate. Instead of a bland job description, include detailed explanations of your skills and previous experience.
  • Write a cover letter that makes the résumé relevant to me. Tell me: Why are you the best candidate for the position?

Also avoid these resume pitfalls to stay ahead of the competition in your job search:

  • Check and double-check for grammatical errors, typos, and misspellings.
  • Always define your acronyms.
  • Edit yourself — too much text can kill a résumé.